The Festive Gallery: A 2013 round robin from Croydon

By - Tuesday 24th December, 2013

‘Tis the season of goodwill, although one could be forgiven for forgetting that in Croydon’s political class. After a rollercoaster of a year (anyone would think there’s an election in five months), the people of Croydon are settling down for a nice mince pie, a flick through the channels and, without doubt, a self-congratulatory round robin or two from friends and family. In the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to use my last TPG of 2013 to publish a round robin that came through my letterbox this morning, from an apparently very bubbly individual named ‘Croydon’…

Dear Grandpa London and Grandma Surrey,

What a year 2013 has been for us! After spending most of 2012 being envious of cousin Stratford, it looks like we shall have much to be proud of in the near future. There’s simply far too much to catch you up on, but I shall try to bring you up to speed on some of what happened this year.

In January, two very well-dressed men named Mr Hammerson and Mr Westfield came to town. They made a grand speech (along with Mr Johnson, the Mayor of Grandpa!), and said they were going to ‘work together’ to build a new shopping centre for us all. How lovely! Some of us gave them the nickname ‘Hammerfield’ – though I don’t think they liked it very much. Mr Bluewater stopped inviting me to tea this month, though, so it wasn’t all good news.

Also that month, Uncle Mike said he was considering closing down the Local Studies Library, or at least not letting us go to use it. Lots of people got very upset, and wrote quite wonderful articles explaining why this oughtn’t happen. In the end, Uncle Mike and his friends decided to let people carry on using the Local Studies Library.

May was the beginning of a very tense time for us all. Uncle Mike and his friends decided to sell off some old plates which we have had for a very long time. No-one could have imagined the brouhaha that ensued! Uncle Mike and Uncle Tony started shouting at each other even more than they usually did, and for the rest of the year, there was a great deal of controversy. Some clever people on ‘the internet’ organised a debate and held a vote about it. Later, the plates did get sold, but not for as much money as Uncle Mike had hoped for.

Uncle Tony’s friends, ‘the Labour Party’, had to decide who they wanted to replace Uncle Gavin in 2015. Deciding to only choose from a list of women (which little Mario from down the road didn’t like!). In July, they chose a lady by the name of Mrs Jones. She seems very nice, but she does say rather rude things about Uncle Gavin. She seemed very put out about the plates!

In September a devilishly handsome young chap started writing about what was going on in the town. I think he calls it ‘the public ganymede’ or something. Soon afterwards, he discovered that young Mr Cash, who had opened a shop in the old Allders site, might not have been paying his staff properly – eventually Mr Cash explained that it was all because of ‘an error’ made by someone he had now sacked, but still. It was all rather dramatic for a time.

October was terribly exciting. A man named John Laing told Uncle Mike he would be able to run the local libraries a lot better than Uncle Mike’s friends, so Uncle Mike gave them to him. However, within weeks of Mr Laing taking over the libraries, he sold them all to Mr Carillion. Uncle Tony was very angry indeed!

Uncle Gavin and Uncle Steve were happy this month, though for a different reason – Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband had given them new jobs. You should have seen their beaming faces as they went off to work! Uncle Gavin is looking after some whips, and Uncle Steve is going to catch all the robbers. At least, I think that’s what’s happening.

In November, Great Uncle Richard’s family decided on who would replace him. There were an awful lot of women to choose from, but in spite of that they chose a charming man by the name of Mr Philp. It looks like he will be an uncle soon! Mr Hammerson and Mr Westfield also put on very nice suits and gave a lot of impressive presentations – Uncle Gavin gave them a hand with those – and we gave them permission to build their new shopping centre.

We had a new bridge to celebrate in December, apparently. This meant that Uncle Mike wasn’t able to come and see a marvellous film about the problems we had in 2011, but they did let off some fireworks and serve lukewarm noodles. Uncle Mike’s ex-partner Andrew, who now works with Uncle Tony, tried to adopt the Sutton Twins – Carshalton & Wallington. He didn’t get permission to do so, though.

Because money was still a bit tight, Uncle Mike and his friends suggested we should no longer have anything to do with our Dutch cousins, Arnhem. Some people thought that was a bit rude, as the anniversary of Arnhem’s battle is next year. I think this may become another story like the one about the plates!

Oh, and some of those clever people from the internet also started printing out their website, or at least I think that’s what they did. I’ve never been very good with computers. 

It has been a remarkable year for us.  There is so much more to talk about! People arguing about parks, people arguing about plates (again), people arguing about rubbish, people arguing about women, even people arguing about arguing. Oh dear, it does seem, looking back, that 2013 has been the year of the argument for little old us. Well – we must try to make 2014 the year of reconciliation! I’m sure the election won’t become an obstacle to that…

Hugs and kisses,


I have a confession to make.

I wrote that letter. I didn’t find it in my letterbox. Unlike the wonderful letter from Andy Dickinson yesterday, it’s a shameless fiction – but with some factual basis. All the same, I hope you enjoyed the journey through Croydon’s 2013. It’s been a privilege to discuss the stories affecting our town with you, either on comments, in person or on social media. I very much look forward to doing so again next year. After a short break, the Public Gallery will return on 9th January 2014.

Until then, a very merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of TPG’s readers – be you blue, red, yellow or green. As they say in my partial homeland – gladelig jul!

Tom Black

Tom Black

Tom is the Citizen's General Manager, and spent his whole life in Croydon until moving to Balham in 2017. He also writes plays that are occasionally performed and books that are occasionally enjoyed. He's been a Labour Party member since 2007, and in his spare time runs an online publishing house for alternate history books, Sea Lion Press. He is fluent in Danish, but speaks no useful languages. Views personal, not representative of editorial policy.

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  • Anne Giles

    And a Happy Christmas to you. I must admit, Uncle Tony and Uncle Mike have never got on, and of course the various cousins seem to be always at loggerheads as well – cousin Timothy can be quite aggressive, although cousin Wayne is very different. Here, close to my home we have cousins Sara, Phil and Dudley, who all get on very well. A rather distant cousin is Steven, who doesn’t really seem to get on with anyone at all. Shame!